Consumers Prefer the Mobile Web Over News Apps

mobilenews2A visitor to a news site that arrived through Facebook or search is less engaged than a direct visitor, according to a new study from Pew Research Center. This pattern holds true for both legacy media outlets and digitally-native publications like BuzzFeed.

The report looked at 26 news sites: the top 15 in traffic according to comScore and the top 20 most-shared publications on Facebook according to platform’s internal data. While it did not delve deeply into mobile traffic due to the limitations of comScore’s mobile panel, there were still some interesting insights on mobile Web-browsing habits.

Readers continue to favor Web browsing over apps when it comes to news. Only 13 of the 26 news outlets studied had a mobile app. Of those 13, the five most-downloaded were ABC News, CNN, Fox News, USA Today and Yahoo News. Even though the apps of these five publications were among the top 20 most-downloaded news apps in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, the publications saw at least two times the audience visiting on mobile browsers. ABC News saw over 12 times more visitors via mobile Web browser:


“Despite the growth in mobile phone and tablet use, the desktop still dominates the traffic to news sites,” read the report. “None of the 26 sites studied had more traffic come from a mobile device than from desktop.”

Even though desktop/laptop remains the primary form factor for delivering news, mobile traffic continues to increase. The Wall Street Journal, which was not a part of the study, sees about 37 percent of its traffic come from mobile, according to our sister site SocialTimes. Mashable, also not part of the study, sees about 45 percent of its traffic coming from mobile. “I could see us getting to the point of 60 to 70 percent, and we would have to deliver mobile first,” Mashable’s executive editor Jim Roberts said.

For more on the report, including the full list of publications in the study, head to SocialTimes.